Google’s Larry Page lobbies for access to white spaces

Stepping up the battle for UHF spectrum access between technology companies and broadcast/pro audio forces, Google co-founder Larry Page recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to make his case for what he describes as “Wi-Fi on steroids.”

Addressing the New America Foundation, Page painted a picture of slippage in broadband penetration in the United States, framing his comments in Google's mission to “organize the world's information.” In his talk, Page noted that years of successful usage of wireless microphones in the UHF band suggests that unlicensed devices could similarly operate without causing interference. Page believes that tapping the unused TV white spaces for broadband access would be a tremendous opportunity to bring the Internet to more Americans, especially those in rural areas. Because of the much longer range of the UHF spectrum, wireless broadband access using the TV white spaces could be brought to more consumers using fewer base stations.

Page decried the political lobbying that has surrounded device testing by the FCC and noted that the FCC process will guarantee that no device is sold to consumers until it can be certified not to interfere. He expressed confidence that this technical hurdle will be cleared.

Another major point of Page’s address was that traditional spectrum allocation methods are inefficient, resulting in a lot of valuable spectrum going to waste. He proposed that spectrum be auctioned off by the government on a real-time basis (similar to Google's ad auction), allowing devices and consumers to use spectrum as they need it. He also suggested that the U.S. government agencies that hold spectrum — primarily the Department of Defense — be allowed to have real-time auctions of their unused spectrum to other potential users, which would also generate additional government revenue.

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